Before the ink was dry on the papers making the Center for Sport, Peace, and Society official at UT, the center had already landed a $1.2 million cooperative agreement with the US State Department to help engage women and girls from around the world through sports.
The Center for Sport, Peace, and Society is an endeavor of the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies. Sarah Hillyer will direct the center and Ashleigh Huffman will be assistant director. Though there is an initial group of eighteen faculty members with the center, involvement is expected from other UT departments, including Religious Studies, College Scholars, Sociology, Child and Family Studies, and Educational
Psychology and Counseling.
The center will focus on undergraduate and graduate education, scholarship on the use of sport in community development, and service-learning opportunities.
In June 2012, the center was awarded a $1.2 million grant to implement the Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative. The initiative, a key diplomatic effort by the US State Department, aims to engage young girls and women on how success in athletics can develop important life skills and improve academic achievement. It also is designed to increase cross-cultural understanding between international participants and Americans.
“We’re honored to be selected and to be part of this important US public diplomacy effort,” Hillyer said.
Hillyer and center co-director Huffman were in Washington, DC, in June, when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the US Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program—the flagship component of the initiative.
UT is crafting the program’s curriculum and will coordinate the logistics, including travel and lodging.
Ann Stock, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, noted, “the University of Tennessee’s legacy of empowering women and girls through sports is a rich one. We look forward to partnering together to blaze new paths where girls worldwide can pursue their potential,” she said.
About 135 girls and women from developing countries will participate in the program.
The initiative has three components: the US Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program, which pairs up to twenty international emerging leaders with leading American women in the sports world; Sports Visitors, which brings women and girls from overseas to the United States for an exchange that teams them up with their American counterparts; and Sports Envoys, which will send professional US athletes, coaches, and sports administrators overseas to engage underserved youth in clinics and leadership discussions.
For more information, visit the center’s website at sportandpeace.utk.edu.
Find out more about the State Department’s initiative at exchanges.state.gov/womeninsports.